Professor Ernest Uwazie, Chair of the Division of Criminal Justice, California State University, Sacramento, United States of America, says such community justice system play a very important role in quick justice delivery.
Prof. Uwazie, who is also the Director of the Centre for African Peace and Conflict Resolution, said this to the Ghana News Agency when he led 12 students and three faculty members of the University to Ghana to appreciate the local justice systems.
He indicated that alternative resolution was a critical aspect of the justice system and very much anchored in the community.
It expands access to justice for those who might not be able to use the court or those who saw the police station as unsuitable for their situation, he said.
According to him, such familiar community justice systems and processes should remain in the African setting as it was a critical aspect of peacemaking efforts in the localities.
He said their visit to the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Centre at Ashaiman was a confirmation that such systems were very important and a confirmation of the role that alternative resolution played in a stable society.
Prof. Uwazie added that it was gratifying to see the growth and application of the mediation training the Ghana Association of Certified Mediators and Arbitrators of which he was part, gave to the arbitrators of the centre.
Prof Uwazie however called for an interaction between such informal community based systems of justice and the formal ones such as the police and the court to ensure swift conflict resolution.
Touching on their visit, he said it was initiated based on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo on behalf of the University of Ghana and the California State University, Sacramento when he visited the United States in 2018.
He said the visit was insightful as the students were lectured on Ghana’s legal system, the indigenous system, role of the Ghana Police Service, and the Ghana Prison Service.
They paid visits to the Manhyia Palace in Kumasi, courts, police stations and Domestic Violence Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) offices.
Mr Victor Nyadi, A mediator at the ADR Ashaiman, said they had been operating for 19 years with trained mediators who handled and settled land disputes, recovery of debts, and child maintenance and support, among other issues.
Mr Nyadi added that mediators did not decide for parties but rather facilitated their willingness to reach an agreement acceptable to all.
Miss Gabriela Wofford, a second year student of the University, expressed joy at the opportunity to get practical training saying she would do her best to create awareness on such community justice systems in the USA.